J. Christian Adams, who sat on President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission, is being sued over reports his group issued accusing hundreds of Virginians of having illegally registered to vote.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday against Adams and his group, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, in federal court in Virginia. It targets the voter fraud allegations the group made in reports called “Alien Invasion in Virginia” and “Alien Invasion II,” which claimed that hundreds of non-citizens had likely committed felonies by registering to vote.
The lawsuit is being brought by four people who say they were falsely mislabeled as non-citizens who illegally registered to vote in the reports, despited the fact that they are all citizens. The League of United Latin American Citizens is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, which is being spearheaded by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Protect Democracy, two pro-democracy groups.”
The complaint said Adams’ claims amount to voter intimidation, because his reports “recklessly” labeled certain Virginians who had been removed from the rolls as non-citizens, without proving that they weren’t removed for other reasons. One plaintiff in the lawsuit, for instance, was removed because of a paperwork error, according to the complaint. Adams’ reports contained personal information of those named including addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers, according to the complaint.
“Labeling the individuals named in the reports as non-citizens and therefore felons with reckless disregard for the truth of those accusations acts to intimidate and threaten those individuals and to deter them from voting or registering to vote,” the complaint said.
It pointed to comments left on news articles about Adams’ reports — in which commenters said the people named in them should be “shot,” “executed,” “deported,” or “imprisoned” — to argue that the plaintiffs “have a legitimate concern regarding harassment and physical safety.”
The complaint also alluded to the timing of the reports, with the second one coming out as President Trump was making false claims of millions of people voting illegally. Adams was chosen to serve on a commission Trump created in 2016 to study voter fraud allegations. It was shut down due to mounting lawsuits, but not before Adams was able to add the report to the commission’s records at one of its meetings.
“This embarrassment and harm to their reputation—having been wrongly accused of committing felonies—was compounded when Defendant Adams ensured that the report and its appendices (including Plaintiffs’ names) were made a part of the record of the Presidential Commission, which received extensive national press coverage,” the complaint said.
The complaint also accused Adams and his group of defamation, and alleged that they violated the Voting Rights Act.
PILF, in a statement, said, “All documents and information included in the PILF report are from public documents from publicly available sources.”
“Any incorrect information is from the public records. The lawsuit against PILF is frivolous and intended to interfere with its mission of supporting the enforcement of the laws of the United States and the states against illegal voting by noncitizens,” the statement said.
For years, Adams and PILF have spearheaded over-hyped and outright false claims of mass voter fraud. Beyond its reports, it has sued states and localities for allegedly having more people on their voter rolls than are eligible to vote in the jurisdiction. A federal judge recently called the formula PILF uses to back up those accusations “misleading.”
Updated: This story has been updated to clarify the missions of Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Protect Democracy
Read Thursday’s lawsuit below: